City of Vancouver Assistant Director of Planning Kent Munro’s reply to CCAN’s October 28 letter to The City was read aloud to those attending the CCAN meeting at St Mark’s Church Hall Saturday afternoon. Overall the letter received quite a positive response. “He obviously read our letter carefully” someone said. Meeting participants were encouraged by this and that he expressed agreement with many of the concerns that CCAN raised about the project. However, while meeting participants recognized that the proposed development is at “the enquiry,” rather than “the application,” stage they felt the letter left a number of key issues still in need of further exploration. It was agreed that CCAN’s next step will be to thank Mr. Munro for his prompt response while also seeking further clarification on some of the concerns our group has about various aspects of this proposal .
We look forward to continuing this constructive dialogue with The City on this and other matters of importance to the Cedar Cottage community.
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Dear Ms. Garvin …
We are in receipt of the October 28, 2013 email from your group which outlines a number of concerns regarding a proponent’s proposal for properties at East 18th Avenue and Commercial Drive. Thank you for sharing those concerns directly with us, for identifying your group to us and for reaching out. Going forward, we will make sure to communicate with your group, if and as this proposal evolves.
I wanted to start by addressing your group’s desire for input and consultation “at the beginning of the process.” Please note that no application for rezoning has been submitted – this is only an enquiry at this time. The community has become aware of this enquiry because Planning Department staff — upon being approached by the proponent with a development proposal — suggested to the proponent that they immediately engage directly with the community. Based on that recommendation from City staff, the proponent (Cressey Developments) hosted an Open House in the community on October 7, 2013 in order to share information about their proposal. This approach is now the Department’s standard practice which has been in place for some time, a process enhancement that was made in response to a desire for the kind of early, collaborative community involvement your group is seeking.
Again, this proponent has not filed an application to rezone the properties. At this early stage, the proposal is what we call “an enquiry”, which essentially means that it is a proponent’s idea. I want to assure your group that, based on this proponent’s early idea for the site as shown to the community at the October 7th Open House, Planning Department staff share many of the very same concerns that your group has expressed. For example,
– Staff will not support a large format commercial use at this location.
– Staff concur that the proposed density is too high. Staff would go further to say that any proposal would have to transition in terms of scale and form to integrate with the lower scale of existing buildings to the west and north. If a higher form is considered on this site, it should be located at the east end of the site near the arterial.
– Staff agree that the building design as shown is not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.
– Staff agree that any development would need to strive to preserve existing mature vegetation wherever practical.
– Staff are of the view that any existing drainage features would need to be carefully considered and perhaps integrated into the design.
As you can see, the views of Planning Department staff align with many of the concerns you have expressed. All concerns will be conveyed to the proponent. It is our expectation that these issues will be appropriately addressed by the proponent before this becomes a rezoning application.
Another matter I would like to note is that this development proposal is being duly considered under the City’s “Interim Rezoning Policy” (“IRP”). That policy is a Council-approved policy under which rental housing proposals can be considered. While we recognize that your group is raising concerns around issues such as DCL’s, parking reductions and affordability, I do want to be clear that the City’s IRP specifically speaks to those parameters and, therefore, any future rezoning application will be assessed against the IRP’s parameters.
Once again, thank you for connecting with us. Yan Zeng is the planner assigned to this file and will be the key contact for you going forward. You mention that your open letter would be posted on your website and I would appreciate it if this response letter could be similarly shared so that this information gets to those in the community with an interest.
Kent Munro, MCIP
Assistant Director of Planning
Current Planning Division
City of Vancouver